FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas has Nick Smith back, but we won’t know until March if it was in time.
One thing we can be pretty assured of is Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman and his staff have been coming up with a plan for this.
His 17 minutes on the floor was enough to show there are still some things to work out, but nothing that can’t be fixed in practices and some time on the floor in a game.
Being on the road at Texas A&M this week will help, along with three days of practices mixed in there before Wednesday night’s matchup. Having that extra day can be big in this situation.
It can’t be soon enough for a team that has spent time adjusting to life without him, then uncertainty if he would be back and now getting used to having him on the floor.
Fans, on the other hand, are all over the place.
Some thought he should just go to the NBA or figured he would light up Mississippi State for 30. That probably wasn’t going to happen under the best of circumstances.
What the Hogs get with Smith back on the floor is somebody to free up Ricky Council IV a little.
After starting strong in the preseason, he had struggled at times in conference play with teams collapsing to shut him down. Point guard Anthony Black and Davonte Davis have taken advantage of that.
Now opponents have a different problem.
With Smith on the floor and getting better each day with more adjustments being made, now Council may get to score more. Sure, he had 13 points against the Bulldogs on Saturday, but 11 of those came at the free-throw line (where he was 11-of-13).
Davis had one of those games and probably couldn’t have hit water if he fell out of a boat in the middle of a lake. After a couple of big games, Devo had one of those nights.
Even Jordan Walsh, who may have had the biggest hustle play of the night battling a State player the length of the floor after a couple of dives on one play, only scored 2 points. Put that down in the same category with Devo.
Flush all that and look ahead.
Smith being back on the floor makes this a new team that will create new problems for opponents.
Of course we probably won’t know what that is for a couple of weeks, at least.
Or whenever Musselman figures it all out this time.